March 13th Residential Meeting Recap - All About WELL!

By Molly Cox and Bill Womeldorf on 3/16/2017

The Residential Green Building Committee met on March 13th, 2017.  We had a guest presentation from Jennifer Taranto, the Director of Sustainability at Structure Tone, on the WELL Building Standard (see her presentation attached).

She began by explaining who benefits from WELL, and what the standard is intended to do. WELL gauges the impact buildings have on the people surrounding/in them. Essentially, WELL benefits the people, whereas LEED benefits the environment. While some may think LEED and WELL are similar standards, there is actually about a 20% overlap between LEED and WELL, mostly related to indoor air quality.

The WELL standard is a performance-based system in which a 3rd party (Green Business Certification Inc.) verifies compliance with the requirements. After three years, WELL requires a re-certification to confirm the compliance still remains. There are three levels of certification: Silver, Gold, and Platinum (similar to LEED rankings). And in March 2017, there were 12 certified WELL projects.

Cost Structure of WELL:

Often in a business, the people (workforce) contribute to the lionshare of costs, with a smaller percentage making up the overhead costs (such as energy bills). Jennifer mentioned that investing in a standard benefiting the people of a business, yields a higher return for the business itself. To register, there is a $5,500 fee, and the cost to certify is based on a square foot price. Jennifer said that in her WELL project, there was only a 2% cost increase to use the WELL standard (1.4% came from soft costs such as an acoustical consultant).

Seven Main Concepts of WELL:

  • Air: HVAC optimizing, healthy materials, low VOCs (similar to the Living Building Challenge's Red List), CO monitors
  • Water: Filtered water, access to water for occupants
  • Nourishment: Access to healthy food for occupants, low sugar food, etc.
  • Light: Circadian lighting (blue light in morning that switches to yellow light in the evening) daylighting, and task lighting control
  • Fitness: Inviting outdoor spaces, prioritizing staircases, sit and stand adjustable desks, along with subsidized bike shares, yoga, and gyms.
  • Comfort: Thermal comfort, acoustical comfort, ADA compliance, Ergonomics (occupant-adjustable workstations)
  • Mind: Stakeholder engagement, wellness library (information sharing), Altruism (example, 8 billable hours to any volunteering cause)

We enjoyed having Jennifer at our meeting this month, stay tuned for upcoming presenters at the RGBC meetings! Please join us at our next committee meeting on Monday, April 10th, at 5:45!

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